New dean of student affairs arrives

The Division of Student Affairs just gained its biggest student advocate. Karen Boyd, the department’s new dean, is committed to further improving relationships with students across campus.

Boyd has an optimistic view of the current state of student affairs at the school and sees her work as continual rather than dramatic changes.

“It’s not a need to fix, it’s a need to improve,” Boyd said.

Boyd applauded Carnegie Mellon for having one of the best academic and Student Affairs relationships that she has ever seen on a campus.

Her extensive academic and work history allows her to draw such comparisons. In obtaining her bachelor's and master's degrees, and getting her start in student affairs, Boyd has had experiences at many campuses, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Appalachian State University, Clemson University, Eastern Carolina University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. After obtaining her bachelor's degree in industrial relations and economics with an emphasis on history at Chapel Hill, Boyd graduated and entered the workforce in the middle of the country’s other most recent recession.

“I can definitely understand where graduating students are coming from,” she said.

She is currently working long-distance on her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Georgia.

Just as Boyd spent her academic career in the South, she also spent her childhood there. She was born in North Carolina. With a father in the military who worked on the first generation of military and portable computers, and a mother as a music educator, Boyd said that she feels a unique bond to Carnegie Mellon and its fusion of such subjects.

“It’s like I’m going to old familial stomping grounds,” she said.

Boyd expanded on her love for the campus, citing a number of characteristics.

“The type of student that comes here is different and thinks in a certain way,” she said.

Boyd called the school an “incubator” that stimulates these students, empowers them in identifying how they can overcome challenges, and teaches them how to take and manage risks.

“It would be one thing if things were broken,” Boyd said. “My biggest challenge is to figure out how I can assist.”

Boyd hopes to assist in bringing people together who might not have found each other, and in developing a strategic plan for the role of student affairs.

Boyd said that in recent communications with the public, she was stunned to hear that people had never heard of the university.

“That’s also one of my goals: Sharing the Carnegie Mellon secret more,” she said.

Boyd had always heard of the school from her father, yet had never visited the school nor lived near Pittsburgh.

When Boyd first came to campus, she took a student-led tour and was impressed by the interesting architecture. Living here now, she is also impressed by the city that surrounds her.

“I am pleasantly surprised by Pittsburgh,” she said. “I knew that it was making a serious turnaround, but I had no idea just what a pleasant and fun city it was.”

Boyd said that what excites her the most about her job are the possibilities.

“It’s awe-inspiring at times,” she said. “They give you so much more than you expected.”

Boyd hopes to get to know not only the university staff but the students as well. She hopes to host Tartan Teas at her home, in which she will have the chance to get to know the students that make up the campus.

“Students can do anything if we do our part to help them,” she said.

Boyd looks to the future with a optimistic view for student relationships.

“I have the luxury of figuring out the next generation instead of creating the first,” she said. “My job is really in convening discussion. There’ s a lot of smart people here and that’s really all I’m doing.”

Boyd is a firm believer in the famous quote by Emily Dickinson, “I dwell in possibilities.” She hopes to bring this attitude to campus.